Documentary on life and career of Joe Paterno to air on ESPN

October 08, 2003

University Park, Pa. -- A one hour documentary, "The Season: Joe Paterno," on the life and career of legendary Penn State football coach Joe Paterno re-air on Thursday, Oct. 16 at 4 p.m. ET.

The ESPN-produced documentary is part of ESPN's Original Entertainment programming.

In his 38th season as head coach and 54th year as a member of the Nittany Lions' coaching staff, Paterno is widely regarded as one of the college football's greatest coaches. The leader in career victories among major college coaches, Paterno is ranked fourth among active Division I-A coaches in winning percentage entering the 2003 season. Paterno broke the record for career wins by a major college coach, passing Paul "Bear" Bryant, with his 324th victory in Penn State's thrilling 29-27 win over Ohio State on Oct. 27, 2001.

A native of Brooklyn, N.Y. and a 1950 graduate of Brown University, Paterno has directed Penn State to five unbeaten seasons (1968, '69, '73, '86, '94), two national championships (1982, '86) and is the bowl victories leader with a 20-10-1 post-season record. He is second only to Chicago's Amos Alonzo Stagg (41) in years coached at one school.

Paterno is one of just nine coaches in NCAA history to record 300 wins (five in I-A), reaching the milestone faster than anyone (380 games). He is the only Div. I-A coach with 300 wins at one school.

Paterno has been instrumental in PSU's 442-151-7 record since 1950, with its 74.3 winning percentage the nation's third-best over the past 53 seasons. Penn State's October 11 game at Purdue was the 600th game Paterno has coached in since joining the Nittany Lions' staff.

Since Paterno became head coach in 1966, there have been 729 head coaching changes in Division I-A, an average of six changes per school (includes one change this season).

Paterno's tenure at Penn State spans the administrations of 11 U.S. presidents, including one, President George Bush, whose nomination Paterno seconded at the 1988 Republican National Convention.

Paterno has distinguished himself as a coach and instructor whose players value principles as much as victories. Obviously not a person of misplaced priorities, Paterno always has concentrated on seeing that his student-athletes attend class, devote the proper time to studies and graduate with a meaningful degree. He often has said he measures team success not by athletic prowess but by the number of productive citizens who make a contribution to society.

The 2003 NCAA Graduation Rate Report for Division I institutions revealed that the Penn State football program had a graduation rate of 86 percent for the entering class of 1996-97, the highest graduation rate of any of the nation's public institutions that play Division I-A football. The 86 percent graduation rate was substantially above the national average of 54 percent.

The wisdom of Paterno's "Grand Experiment" - which addresses academic and lifestyle matters in addition to athletic prowess - has won almost universal endorsement from his former players and produced hundreds of men who have become leaders in all walks of life. Paterno's program has produced 22 first team Verizon Academic All-Americans, 18 NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship winners and 14 National Football Foundation Hall of Fame Scholar-Athletes. Penn State's 124 Academic All-Big Ten football selections since 1993 are the most of any conference institution.

In an exceptional display of generosity and affection for Penn State, Paterno; his wife, Sue, and their five children announced a contribution of $3.5 million to the University in January 1998, bringing Paterno's lifetime giving total to more than $4 million.

The Paterno gift endowed faculty positions and scholarships in the College of the Liberal Arts; the School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture; the University Libraries and supported two building projects - the Pasquerilla Spiritual Center and the Penn State All-Sports Museum, both on the University Park campus. The museum opened in February, 2002 and the interfaith spiritual center was dedicated in May, 2003.

In 1984, Joe and Sue Paterno established the Paterno Libraries Endowment with gifts totaling $120,000. Subsequent contributions have pushed the endowment's total to more than $4 million.

The Paternos also served as co-chairs of the campaign to expand the Pattee Library that included a personal contribution of $250,000 among the $14 million that was raised. The Penn State Board of Trustees voted to name the new library wing after the Paternos. The five-story, 135,000-square foot expansion doubled the size of Pattee Library.

The $34.4 million Paterno Library was dedicated in September, 2000.
Since Paterno took over in 1966, Penn State has had 69 first-team All-Americans, claiming three in 2002.

Paterno's coaching portfolio includes 20 finishes in the Top Ten of the national rankings; four AFCA National Coach-of-the-Year plaques, and more than 250 former players who have made it to the National Football League, 29 of them first-round draft choices. Four Nittany Lions were selected in the first round of the 2003 NFL Draft.

His teams have registered seven undefeated regular-seasons and he has had 26 teams finish in the Top 20. Penn State has won the Lambert-Meadowlands Trophy, emblematic of Eastern football supremacy 21 times in Paterno's coaching run.

Paterno ranks third overall in victories among college football coaches all-time, trailing only Eddie Robinson of Grambling (408 wins) and John Gagliardi, the coach of St. John's (Minn), who has 403 victories.

Paterno is the only coach to win the four traditional New Year's Day bowl games - the Rose, Sugar, Cotton and Orange bowls - and he owns a 6-0 record in the Fiesta Bowl. He was selected by the National Football Foundation and College Football Hall of Fame as the first active coach to receive its Distinguished American Award. Paterno also was the 1986 Sports Illustrated "Sportsman-of-the-Year." In 1998, he was the initial winner of the Eddie Robinson Coach-of-the-Year Award, which recognizes an active college coach who is a role model to students and players, an active member of the community and an accomplished coach.

In January 2002, the American Football Coaches Association presented Paterno with its highest honor, the Amos Alonzo Stagg Award. The award honors those "whose services have been outstanding in the advancement of the best interests of football."

Joe and Sue Paterno have five children, all of whom are Penn State graduates, and 12 grandchildren.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated March 19, 2009